March 31st, 2010
01:40 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama energy plan would open up Gulf drilling

(CNN) - President Barack Obama will announce plans Wednesday to open large sections of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and an area off the Virginia coast for oil and natural gas drilling as part of a larger energy initiative, an administration official said.

"To set America on a path to energy independence, the President believes we must leverage our diverse domestic resources by pursuing a comprehensive energy strategy," said a statement provided by the official who did not want to comment on the record ahead of the president's announcement.

"The President will announce today additional measures that will boost domestic energy production and promote clean energy innovation," the statement said.

The president will introduce the measure during an address at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington late Wednesday morning.  He will be joined at the event by the secretaries of the Interior, Energy and Navy, as well as the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The administration proposal would include lifting a 20-year ban on drilling off the Virginia coastline, while putting the clamps on sites that had been approved off the coast of Alaska.

The plan also would authorize the Interior Department to conduct seismic surveys off the south- and mid-Atlantic coasts to "determine the quantity and location of potential oil and gas resources to support energy planning."

By expanding offshore drilling, the administration is reaching out to Republicans who have long pushed for such a move and is part of a larger effort by the White House to promote energy independence.

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation will sign an agreement establishing fuel economy standards for cars and trucks for model years 2012-2016.

"We are implementing policies that will greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil," the official said, noting the White House is "leading by example" and will announce the purchase of 5,000 hybrid vehicles for the federal fleet.

CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian contributed to this report.


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